Skip to main content


Reposted from DWG by Plubius

Rush Limbaugh and other members of the conservative intelligentsia used the occasion of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan to mock the country for producing fuel efficient vehicles. As usual, they were tasteless and wrong.

A story in the New York Times ("After disaster hit Japan, electric cars stepped up") highlights the utility of the electric vehicles (EVs) in the devastated areas of Japan. The keys to their utility have been their ability to go without gasoline and durability. The earthquake and tsunami destroyed refineries and fuel delivery infrastructure in the region, making it impractical to rely on gas-guzzlers to move people and supplies around the area.

“There was almost no gas at the time, so I was extremely thankful when I heard about the offer,” said Tetsuo Ishii, a division chief in the environmental department in Sendai, which also got four Nissan Leaf electric cars. “If we hadn’t received the cars, it would have been very difficult to do what we needed to.”
Continue Reading

Mon Apr 18, 2011 at 08:42 PM PDT

Fukushima Status Update - TEPCO's plan

by kbman

Reposted from kbman by kbman

Here is an update of things from the past couple of weeks and some thoughts on TEPCO's announced plans for the next several months.  For those who are new, I have written a number of diaries regarding the situation at Fukushima.  (Here is the most recent from 4/4.  It has links to others.)

Continue Reading
Reposted from journeyman by journeyman

Japan Disaster Relief Donations

Shelter Box

the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Information and Assistance group

It has now been one month since the horrific triple catastrophe of earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis struck Japan.  The good news, such as it is, is that the horrific toll of dead and missing, after climbing precipitously for the first two weeks, has largely leveled off.  While the death toll has continued to climb, much of that increase has come at the expense of the number of missing.  In addition, it seems that at least some of the missing have been found alive and the combined total is actually now less than it was on March 24.  Moreover, local government has had long enough to contact most of the shelters and so it seems reasonable to conclude that the official number of missing (calculated only upon report of a family member) will not increase.  Of course there are still entire households that were wiped away and we will not know the total toll for some time to come.  That allowed, it seems reasonable to conclude that some of the more catastrophic scenarios (including some envisioned by the present writer) will not come to pass and the final death toll may even be under 30,000.  While that might not sound like such good news, considering what was feared for a time, it has to be viewed as relatively good news.

Continue Reading
Reposted from journeyman by journeyman

Japan Disaster Relief Donations

the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Information and Assistance group.

Shelter Box

Miyagi Prefecture, the area of Japan that was most devastated by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami was hit earlier today by another major earthquake.  The preliminary magnitude was a 7.4.  This was a big quake.  Parts of Miyagi measured a high 6 on the Japanese Seismic Intensity Scale.  This is the second highest possible reading on that scale (the only 7 readings measured thus far were in parts of Kobe during the 1995 quake and in Miyagi during the recent monster).

Though a tsunami warning was issued, it has subsequently been rescinded.

Nuclear facilities are reported (for whatever that's worth) to be unaffected by this quake.

There are a number of reported injuries although I have not yet seen reports of any fatalities.  Nevertheless, a quake of this size striking right in the heart of the areas hardest hit by the tsunami, it is hard to imagine that many of those sheltering in already-damaged homes or in make-shift shanties will be unaffected.

Continue Reading

Mon Apr 04, 2011 at 11:50 AM PDT

Fukushima Status Update 4/4

by kbman

Reposted from kbman by kbman

For those who missed my previous diaries on this topic, I have a background in physics and worked at Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station providing computer support for the reactor core engineering group.  For the entire qualifications spiel and/or some background on Boiling Water Reactor (BWR) containment structures, see

Everything You Never Wanted to Know about Nuclear Containments

That diary also contained a review of the then current status of each of the reactors at Fukushima.  This review covered each of the levels of containment discussed in the diary plus the spent fuel pool.  If this sounds somewhat foreign to you then you may wish to read the above diary for context.  This diary is intended as an update reflecting what is known through Thursday evening around 8PM PDT.  Anyone wishing to trace the evolution can look back through the previous update diaries here,  here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

In continuing diaries on this topic I will update this information based on information from a number of sources including the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, The Japanese Atomic Industrial Forum, JAIF, and media reports which quote directly from organizations such as Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.  My intention here is to tie together the various strands of information to provide an overall picture of things and explain it in a way that is accessible to those without scientific training.

This diary and others like it are not intended as a substitute for the ongoing liveblog diaries, but rather, to pull all of the info together in summary form.

I have also written previously on the topic of meltdowns in the diary

What, exactly, IS a nuclear meltdown?

In addition, from time to time I consult with a former colleague Stan who was a reactor core engineer and Site Technical Adviser at Oyster Creek.  (BTW, the Oyster Creek experience is directly applicable in the sense that it is the same design plant as those at Fukushima 1-5, at 618 MWe it was more powerful than unit 1's 460 MWe but less than 2-5 which are all 784 MWe.)  It was fairly easy to track him down via Google and a hit on his profile at LinkedIn.  I reconnected with him via a networking request through LinkedIn.

I also make every effort to be clear when I'm writing about known fact versus theory, interpretation, and speculation.  In those cases in which I speculate on possible causes of current conditions or what future events might be I provide the supporting evidence which causes me to arrive at these conclusions.  I'm also not attached to being right.  If you have a perspective that I have not considered please mention it in the comments and we can discuss the relative merits of how we see things.  I have very few things that I believe beyond doubt, and even those I have my doubts about :)  Seriously.  What's so trumps theory, belief, interpretation, speculation, etc.  When presented with reliable evidence that contradicts what I have held to be so, I change my beliefs.

Continue Reading
Reposted from kbman by kbman Editor's Note: Forgot to republish this earlier ... got caught up in responding to comments. -- kbman

For those who missed my previous diaries on this topic, I have a background in physics and worked at Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station providing computer support for the reactor core engineering group.  For the entire qualifications spiel and/or some background on Boiling Water Reactor (BWR) containment structures, see

Everything You Never Wanted to Know about Nuclear Containments

That diary also contained a review of the then current status of each of the reactors at Fukushima.  This review covered each of the levels of containment discussed in the diary plus the spent fuel pool.  If this sounds somewhat foreign to you then you may wish to read the above diary for context.  This diary is intended as an update reflecting what is known through Thursday evening around 8PM PDT.  Anyone wishing to trace the evolution can look back through the previous update diaries here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

In continuing diaries on this topic I will update this information based on information from a number of sources including the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, The Japanese Atomic Industrial Forum, JAIF, and media reports which quote directly from organizations such as Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.  My intention here is to tie together the various strands of information to provide an overall picture of things and explain it in a way that is accessible to those without scientific training.

This diary and others like it are not intended as a substitute for the ongoing liveblog diaries, but rather, to pull all of the info together in summary form.

I have also written previously on the topic of meltdowns in the diary

What, exactly, IS a nuclear meltdown?

In addition, from time to time I consult with a former colleague Stan who was a reactor core engineer and Site Technical Adviser at Oyster Creek.  (BTW, the Oyster Creek experience is directly applicable in the sense that it is the same design plant as those at Fukushima 1-5, at 618 MWe it was more powerful than unit 1's 460 MWe but less than 2-5 which are all 784 MWe.)  It was fairly easy to track him down via Google and a hit on his profile at LinkedIn.  I reconnected with him via a networking request through LinkedIn.

I also make every effort to be clear when I'm writing about known fact versus theory, interpretation, and speculation.  In those cases in which I speculate on possible causes of current conditions or what future events might be I provide the supporting evidence which causes me to arrive at these conclusions.  I'm also not attached to being right.  If you have a perspective that I have not considered please mention it in the comments and we can discuss the relative merits of how we see things.  I have very few things that I believe beyond doubt, and even those I have my doubts about :)  Seriously.  What's so trumps theory, belief, interpretation, speculation, etc.  When presented with reliable evidence that contradicts what I have held to be so, I change my beliefs.

Continue Reading
Reposted from HamdenRice by journeyman

This video is just beginning to be circulated widely, so I hope that the DK community views it and passes it on.  It reflects the complexity of the problems created for emergency response workers and officials in areas affected by the Fukushima nuclear reactor.

In an SOS message to the world that appears to have been taped around March 25, the mayor of Minami Soma City, which is 20 to 30 kilometers from Fukushima, explains that because the citizens have been instructed to stay indoors because of radiation, the stores and supermarkets have been closed.  People are running out of food and other basic supplies. He compares the situation to starvation and the people "drying up."

At the same time, volunteers were not coming into the area because of the radiation risk.  The city is also suffering from the devastating effects of the Tsunami.

Continue Reading
Reposted from TexMex by journeyman

Photobucket
L/R: Toshika Asata and 7 month old Misaki visiting her friend Rie Hatakeyama and 11 month old Yasushi who are staying in a ShelterBox tent in Ofunato Junior High School, Ofunato, Iwate Prefecture, Japan on Saturday, March 26, 2011. Photograph: Mark Pearson

Dear most generous Kosssack community! Here I sit in a comfortable room, laptop on lap and am shamelessly "copying and pasting" Directly for the ShelterBox USA website

http://shelterboxusa.org/...
donation link
https://app.etapestry.com/hosted/ShelterBoxUSAInc/OnlineGiving.html

Continue Reading
Reposted from kbman by kbman Editor's Note: Another quick update. I remembered the aid links this time :) -- kbman

There have been a number of developments I want to mention.  Again I need to make this a quick rundown as I need to work on projects I've been neglecting.

Units 2 and 3 are no longer able to hold steam pressure.  Their water level has risen a few inches and the last reported temperatures were 143 C and 121 C at the lower Reactor Pressure Vessel head.  It would be expected that their pressure would be comparable to the roughly  4 or 5 times atmospheric pressure in the unit 1 reactor vessel system.  Instead they are showing near atmospheric pressure.

What this all means is that somewhere above the water line, something is letting enough air/steam out of the system to keep pressure from being able to rise.  The most likely causes would be leaks in any of a number of relief valves and shutoff valves.  And yes, a crack could also provide the same pressure relief, but given the sequence of events and the corrosive chemistry of the seawater, leaky seals and valves were to be expected after a time, cracking of the vessel was not.  When you see symptoms consistent with expected causes it makes little sense to blame it on very different and far more unlikely causes.  I don't discount the possibility that an unforeseen combination of effects has caused a split in the pressure vessel.  To date I have not read anything from folks knowledgeable in metallurgy or materials testing comment on this to provide an explanation of how it could happen and how conditions during this emergency could have caused it.  

It's a much simpler mechanism for one or more pressure relief valves to have become unable to close after cycling several times to vent steam.  There are corrosive impurities building up everywhere inside which can affect these valve sealing surfaces far more quickly than they can the thick stainless steel Reactor Pressure Vessel walls.

There are experts in various specialties arriving in Japan from France and the USA to assist in managing the effort to achieve greater stability at the site.  They have discussed such items at bringing in tanker ships to store water for decontamination processing.  There were also reports of "wrapping the reactors" in some type of fabric to reduce radioactive releases.  From what I could gather they were talking about tenting the reactor buildings with some filtering fabric to limit the ability of particulates to leave the site.  The only link I saw was in Japanese ... so it goes.

The process of pumping down the turbine buildings continues slowly as they keep finding places to move less contaminated water to open up local storage.  The water in the trench at unit 1 is far less radioactive than that at unit 2.  They do not have measurements at unit 3 due to debris - no explanation is given in the summary as to how the debris is hampering this effort.  We do know that the water in the unit 3 turbine building is radiologically hot because that was where the workers received the radiation burns on their feet.  Given that the turbine building drains into the trench, it is likely that the trench at unit 3 is more like that at unit 2 than at unit 1.

Draining the turbine buildings is critical for work to be able to proceed getting the pumps properly tested, re-primed, and ready to flow.  They also need to test and confirm the ability of the heat exchangers to perform their function.  This means having large pumps operating which bring in seawater to provide cooling.  Until those pumps can operate they can't use the heat exchangers because there would be no place for the heat to go.

We haven't heard much about fuel pools the past few days.  The temperature in pool 2 was recently measured at 46 C.  Not where they want it but not bad.  No measurements available for 1,3 and 4.  At units 5 and 6 and the common pool temperatures are above normal but not alarmingly so.

Also, reports that the chairman had committed suicide were yet another rumor, somewhat sick I might add.  From Kyodo News:

Tsunehisa Katsumata, the company's chairman, said at a news conference nearly three weeks after a powerful earthquake and tsunami prompted the crisis that ''several weeks will be too short'' to stabilize overheating reactors and spent-fuel pools.
...
As to the managerial responsibilities he and President Masataka Shimizu should bear, Katsumata said, ''Our greatest responsibility is to do everything to bring the current situation to an end and under control.''

Shimizu was hospitalized Tuesday for hypertension and dizziness, TEPCO said earlier Wednesday. But the chairman said, ''We have not been aware of any intention of our president to resign.''

Katsumata, who has already taken over Shimizu's role temporarily in leading efforts to bring the crisis under control, said that it will not take long for the ailing president to return to work and resume handling the crisis.

From this I gather that the kernel of truth to the rumor was that something was wrong with the company president.

As mentioned above, I have a busy afternoon ahead.  I'll do what I can to answer any questions as soon as I get a chance, no later than early evening.

Also, please remember there is much suffering going on in Japan as a result of all of the things that have been thrown at them the past few weeks.  If you can afford to do so, please send something their way.  Here are two ways to do that

The Japanese Red Cross Society and Shelter Box USA

Also, here is a link for some great video of the plants that b00g13p0p brought to my attention.  And to get a sense of the size of some of these components, here is a link I found last night with various BWR pictures and diagrams.

Discuss

Tue Mar 29, 2011 at 02:27 PM PDT

Fukushima Status Update 3/29

by kbman

Reposted from kbman by kbman

I need to make this a quick update due to approaching deadlines for projects I've been neglecting as this emergency situation has developed.  I'm going to skip the unit by unit rundown and other background stuff and just discuss recent developments and their implications.

Check these links for background info on nuclear plant containments and recent updates on each unit.

From information at the Japanese Atomic Industrial Forum, it appears that they are considering flooding the primary containment at units 1-3.  Related to the topic "Water Injection to Containment Vessel" they list 1 and 3 as "To be confirmed", and unit 2 as "to be decided (Seawater)"  Over the past two days they have cut back the rate of water addition to the reactors to slow the rate of water being leaked to the environment.  This has caused the temperatures to begin to rise again at all three units.  Flooding the drywell up to the level of the reactor vessel would provide an alternate way of removing heat.  It would also not be subject to the same leak problems as have been showing up in the reactor's pressure vessel containment system.

This would also be done in the event of some breach in the reactor vessel itself, but it wouldn't be something they would contemplate for long if this were the circumstance.  The leaks appear to be related to valves and piping connected to the pressure vessels, not the vessels themselves.  There was a highly unreliable source supposedly quoting a press conference with TEPCO in which they talked about "a hole in the reactor".  There are no other mentions of anything like this from Japanese news sources.  The reference to zerohedge took you to a link for "natural news" who have already reported bogus rumors as fact.  Their reference for the story was to a Japanese site with no English translation available.  If you have taken that "news conference statement" as fact then I'd suggest you consider the sourcing.

The biggest obstacle now is getting the turbine buildings pumped out to allow necessary work to continue.  Once they can get plant pumping systems to work they can begin to gool the plants more effectively and also filter the reactor water and gradually remove the dissolved fission products and saltwater impurities.  I would presume that there is a parallel path being pursued by a team of plant engineers and maintenance workers to determine the sources of the largest leaks and see if there are any ways to isolate the system(s) involved.

The highly radioactive water in the service trenches is also an issue that needs to be addressed soon, but it is not as high a priority as getting the turbine buildings back.  As per various conversations yesterday, it sounds like the most practical approach for that will be to use a staged filtration and demineralization system to remove the majority of the radioactive contaminants and then release the much less toxic result to the ocean - simply for lack of large enough storage areas to allow evaporation of this much water.  It's not a good solution, but better than available alternatives at this point.  Perhaps the civil engineers on site will have some other tricks up their sleeve, but that is on the hopeful side of likeliness.

Given the much larger amount of water at unit 2, it is likely that the folks who pointed to the popped torus as the source were correct.  TEPCO eventually stated that there was damage in the bottom of the torus.  This would leave the entire contents free to flow out into the reactor building and eventually drain through various paths - cable conduits, pipe runs, etc. until it reached the trench.

And considering that there is also water at unit 4, it seems likely that drainage from the fuel pool filling activities is also making its way to the turbine building and service trench.  I've not yet seen reports on isotopic analysis of this water.  If there is an overabundance of short-lived fission products in that water it could indicate that there has been disruption of the bundles in the fuel pool enabling them to have a higher than expected reactivity.  The same could be the case at unit 3 and could help explain the volume of water found there.

Unit 1 has neither of these circumstances.  It was, however, the unit that had the biggest temperature jump last week.  Of the three units, this is the one that is more confounding.  It is lower power than the others and did not have the same fuel pool problem as unit 3 or torus problem of unit 2.  When I come back to this in the evening I'm going to dig up NISA data for an extended stretch over the past two weeks and see if there is anything in the trending that provides more clues as to what may have happened at unit 1 and when.  This may also uncover another potential source for the large volume of water.

I'll need to drive-by on this for now, but will get back for a mid-afternoon break and then again in the evening to get back up to date on new developments.  As stated in a comment the other day, the upside possibilities at this point are quite limited, any good news will only be good in a relative sense - the downside risks far outweigh them.  I believe we are still in a very grave situation there.  I don't see any of the individual issues having risen to the level of desperation at this point, but they are now closer to that than in the past.  The next 24 hours will be interesting, seeing whether they choose to flood the drywells, and if so, seeing how the plants respond.

Discuss
Reposted from kbman by kbman Editor's Note: Got it done late, has important stuff I wanted to get out there. -- kbman

For those who missed my previous diaries on this topic, I have a background in physics and worked at Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station providing computer support for the reactor core engineering group.  For the entire qualifications spiel and/or some background on Boiling Water Reactor (BWR) containment structures, see

Everything You Never Wanted to Know about Nuclear Containments

That diary also contained a review of the then current status of each of the reactors at Fukushima.  This review covered each of the levels of containment discussed in the diary plus the spent fuel pool.  If this sounds somewhat foreign to you then you may wish to read the above diary for context.  This diary is intended as an update reflecting what is known through Saturday evening around 8PM PDT.  Anyone wishing to trace the evolution can look back through the previous update diaries here, here, here, here and here.

In continuing diaries on this topic I will update this information based on information from a number of sources including the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, The Japanese Atomic Industrial Forum, JAIF, and media reports which quote directly from organizations such as Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.  My intention here is to tie together the various strands of information to provide an overall picture of things and explain it in a way that is accessible to those without scientific training.

This diary and others like it are not intended as a substitute for the ongoing liveblog diaries, but rather, to pull all of the info together in summary form.

I have also written previously on the topic of meltdowns in the diary

What, exactly, IS a nuclear meltdown?

In addition, from time to time I consult with a former colleague Stan who was a reactor core engineer and Site Technical Adviser at Oyster Creek.  (BTW, the Oyster Creek experience is directly applicable in the sense that it is the same design plant as those at Fukushima 1-5, at 618 MWe it was more powerful than unit 1's 460 MWe but less than 2-5 which are all 784 MWe.)

I also make every effort to be clear when I'm writing about known fact versus theory, interpretation, and speculation.  In those cases in which I speculate on possible causes of current conditions or what future events might be I provide the supporting evidence which causes me to arrive at these conclusions.  I'm also not attached to being right.  If you have a perspective that I have not considered please mention it in the comments and we can discuss the relative merits of how we see things.  I have very few things that I believe beyond doubt, and even those I have my doubts about :)  Seriously.  What's so trumps theory, belief, interpretation, speculation, etc.  When presented with reliable evidence that contradicts what I have held to be so, I change my beliefs.

Continue Reading

Fri Mar 25, 2011 at 05:30 PM PDT

Fukushima Status Update 3/25

by kbman

Reposted from kbman by kbman

For those who missed my previous diaries on this topic, I have a background in physics and worked at Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station providing computer support for the reactor core engineering group.  For the entire qualifications spiel and/or some background on Boiling Water Reactor (BWR) containment structures, see

Everything You Never Wanted to Know about Nuclear Containments

That diary also contained a review of the then current status of each of the reactors at Fukushima.  This diary is intended as an update reflecting what is known through today around 4 PM PDT.  Anyone wishing to trace the evolution can look back through the previous update diaries here, here, here and here.  

In continuing diaries on this topic I will update this information based on information from a number of sources including the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, The Japanese Atomic Industrial Forum, JAIF, and media reports which quote directly from organizations such as Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.  My intention here is to tie together the various strands of information to provide an overall picture of things and explain it in a way that is accessible to those without scientific training.

This diary and others like it are not intended as a substitute for the ongoing liveblog diaries, but rather, to pull all of the info together in summary form.

I have also written previously on the topic of meltdowns in the diary

What, exactly, IS a nuclear meltdown?

In addition, from time to time I consult with a former colleague Stan who was a reactor core engineer and Site Technical Adviser at Oyster Creek.  (BTW, the Oyster Creek experience is directly applicable in the sense that it is the same design plant as those at Fukushima 1-5, at 618 MWe it was more powerful than unit 1's 460 MWe but less than 2-5 which are all 784 MWe.)

Continue Reading
You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.

RSS

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site